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UK PM Sunak under fire for $1,260 bet to launch Rwanda deportation flights

February 7, 2024 at 8:50 pm

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak departs 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons to attend the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in London, United Kingdom on February 07, 2024 [Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu via Getty Images]

British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, appeared to strike a £1,000 ($1,262) bet with television talk show host, Piers Morgan, over whether migrant deportation flights to Rwanda will take off prior to the country’s general elections within the next year.

During an appearance on Talk TV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored show this week, the presenter told Prime Minister Sunak that “I’ll bet you £1,000 to a refugee charity you don’t get anybody on those planes before the election. Will you take that bet?” They then shook hands, with Sunak saying he is “working incredibly hard to get the people on the planes”, appearing to agree to the challenge.

In its bid to launch the flights to deport migrants and refugees from the United Kingdom to Rwanda, the Tory-led government – of which Sunak is just the latest to take the helm in 2022 – has spent at least £290 million ($366 million) on the plans.

Until now, however, no flights have taken off, and the Supreme Court ruled last year that policy was unlawful. It also faces heavy opposition in the House of Lords, which is expected to significantly stall the bill’s passage through Parliament.

Although Sunak has gone back on his comments and attempted to clarify his position by claiming that he is “not a betting person” and that he was simply “taken by surprise” by Morgan at the time, the apparent bet led to a flurry of criticism that they were “gambling with people’s lives”.

According to Green MP, Caroline Lucas, “These are people’s lives they’re gambling over. Yet Sunak thinks nothing of agreeing a £1k bet. He’s supposed to be the head of government, not a punter in a casino”.

In a post on X, the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, said the comments and alleged bet made the “lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet reduced to a crude bet. It’s just a game to these people. Depraved.”

Labour MP, Jonathan Ashworth, also stated that “Not a lot of people facing rising mortgages, bills and food prices are casually dropping £1,000 bets. It just shows that Rishi Sunak is totally out of touch with working people.”

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